An i-phone calendar that includes your child’s “Baccalaureate” and “Graduation” events in June. A colleague’s office with bookcases cleared of books and walls stripped of pictures. A body that no longer regulates temperature like it used to. Signs of change — clear, true and inevitable.
When I was in my twenties, I (mostly) welcomed change like I welcome chocolate. Change was fun! Change was exciting! Change meant new adventures and new possibilities! Pick up, pack up and move to a new part of the country? Yes! (What cool cross-country route to drive?!) Check out a new restaurant, meet some new friends? Why not?! Count me in! Move workplaces and shift job responsibilities? Okay, I’m on it!
These days, the prospect of change feels different. I drink in the sight of Grace in our family room, her long body draped across the length of our blue sofa, already envisioning a strangely available sofa come this fall. I linger in Caroline’s office doorway, laughing with her about something fun and funny we’ve just shared, and helping myself to a Tic-Tac or two from an otherwise empty bookshelf, so I can linger a bit longer. I pick up a draft service bulletin during staff meeting and begin fanning myself, longing for the days when the term “hot flash” was not something I understood so … intimately.
My head knows that we love and raise our children so we can eventually let them go, to find their own way; that colleagues in ministry must honor their sacred inner sense of timing, discernment and “call”; that, in the words of spiritual writer Richard Rohr, “Falling Upward” into the second half of life can involve a dying and rising of body-mind-spirit that is the stuff of hero-journeying, with fiery dragons and all. My head knows and understands this — accepts it all, even — and stands ready for change and open to new possibilities and new life, on the other side.
My heart … well … She has her own seasons and timing, her own way of navigating these waters and tides.
More and more, these days, I have found myself enjoying the simple meditation of gazing at candlelight for minutes at a time, longer if possible. “Enjoying” is actually not the full story; “needing” to gaze is more true. I find it calming. I find it reassuring. I find it grounding, while also purifying and cleansing, somehow. It helps me to tap into something eternal, beyond-time and out-of-time, unchanging and true, amidst the change swirling and twirling all around and inside.
One thing I am certain of: how good it is, to be part of our community of faith, hope and love, as we navigate the changes and chances of this life together.
you inspire the hearts of the faithful with a single longing,
grant your people to love what you command
and to desire what you promise,
so that in all the changes and chances
of this uncertain world,
our hearts may surely there be fixed
where true joys are to be found;
through Jesus Christ
who is alive with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.